What happened

In response to the company sharing a clinical update, shares of CTI BioPharma (NASDAQ:CTIC), a clinical-stage biotech focused on blood-related cancers, fell 13% as of 12:05 p.m. EDT on Monday.

So what

CTI Biopharma provided investors with an update on its PIX306 trial. This 312-patient phase 3 study was designed to evaluate its cancer drug Pixuvri in combination with Biogen's drug Rituximab, in comparison to Eli Lilly's drug Gemzar in combination with Rituximab as a treatment for non-Hodgkin lymphoma.

Unfortunately, the company stated that the study failed to meet its primary endpoint, which was an improvement in progression-free survival.

Doctor holding up hand as if to say "Stop."

Image source: Getty Images.

Here's what CTI BioPharma's CEO Adam Craig had to say about the results:

We are disappointed with the outcome of the PIX306 trial and will proceed to conduct a thorough review of clinical data to assess the next steps for the PIXUVRI program. We would like to express our appreciation to the patients, families and investigators who participated in the study.

Given the disappointing news, it isn't hard to figure out why shares are tumbling today.

Now what

While downbeat clinical news is never good, CTI BioPharma's shares are not being mauled too badly today, because this company's primary pipeline asset is called Pacritinib. The company has high hopes for the experimental myelofibrosis drug and expects to report top-line clinical data from a phase 2 trial in the first quarter of 2019. If that data looks good, then today's setback will look insignificant by comparison. However, there's no doubt that CTI BioPharma is a high-risk stock with a checkered history. For that reason, I'm content to watch this story play out from the sidelines. 

This article represents the opinion of the writer, who may disagree with the “official” recommendation position of a Motley Fool premium advisory service. We’re motley! Questioning an investing thesis -- even one of our own -- helps us all think critically about investing and make decisions that help us become smarter, happier, and richer.